If Saints are to beat Saracens on Saturday, they will need to put in their best performance of the season to date.
That’s something of which forwards coach Dorian West is well aware, as his men continue to strive for ‘consistency for the 80 minutes’.
Saints sit top of the Aviva Premiership after winning five of their first six games.
But they have yet to turn in a display that they will be totally happy with, with lapses threatening to cost them dear. In the 39-17 defeat at London Irish last time out, they did just that.
And against a Saracens side buoyed by big back-to-back Heineken Cup wins, West knows there will be no room for error.
“We’ve not been the best,” he said. “We’ve played reasonably well in patches in every game and what we’re striving for is that bit of consistency for the 80 minutes.
“It’s something we talked about on Wednesday morning, we played Saracens here last year and did particularly well in that game (beating them 30-8). The only game we’ve come unstuck in was London Irish when we were terrible throughout the game, so we’re looking for consistency and we’re looking to keep improving our game and our performances.
“We’re working hard.”
And he added: “Saracens are a quality side with a lot of quality players. They’ve got a quality squad and there’s quality throughout it.
“They take two good players off and put two good players on, that’s how they are and we’re going to have to be at our best if we’re going to beat them.”
So what do Saints need to do to see off the formidable challenge of a Saracens side who can name a number of England players among their backline?
“We need to play properly,” said West. “We need to control the ball and make sure we’re accurate in what we do. If we do that, we’ve got a lot of good players and we can win any game.”
Full-back James Wilson missed the 21-16 defeat to Castres in Toulouse last Friday, meaning fly-half Stephen Myler was switched to full-back, with Ryan Lamb slotting in at 10.
West says Wilson could return for the Saracens clash, but it looks likely to be a last-minute decision.
“He’s got every chance,” said West. “He’s had a bit of a strain.
“He’s got until Saturday so we’ll see where he gets to.”
Young winger Jamie Elliott is also not far away from coming into contention after getting two tries and 26 minutes under his belt in the Wanderers’ 26-0 win against Oxford University on Monday night.
“It’s part of his rehab and getting him back into things full on,” said West. “He needs to build up gradually and that game time has fitted in around other training that he’s doing.
“You don’t want to fatigue him and put him at risk so there’s a plan involved in getting him back into the team as soon as we can.”